March 27, 2013
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to expand the Safe Passage program this fall as part of the District’s efforts to provide students with a safe transition both inside and around their welcoming schools. CPS is partnering with community leaders and organizations to lead the Safe Passage expansions at each welcoming school, in order to apply the deep knowledge and expertise they have with each of their school communities. This program is one part of CPS’s comprehensive plan to support the safety of students at all welcoming schools in the 2013-2014 school year.
“I will not waver in my commitment to ensure our students have the high-quality education that allows them to succeed regardless of where they live, and we will never improve education at the expense of student safety. That’s why we’re building comprehensive school-by-school safety plans to provide a safe and smooth transition for all welcoming school students,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “Building on our partnerships with community- and faith-based organizations, who know their neighborhoods best, is critical to providing safe passage for all students at welcoming schools this fall.”
Each welcoming school will have a dedicated safety plan tailored to its specific needs. Produced in partnership with Chicago Police Department (CPD), each plan will take into consideration factors such as the distance between schools, neighborhood dynamics and an analysis of other safety risks such as busy streets and intersections. CPS will work to refine the school-by-school plans with principals, parents, community- and faith-based organizations that are most familiar with their communities on a block-by-block basis.
The new RFP is an expansion of CPS’s successful Safe Passage program that currently serves 35 high schools and four elementary schools. There are currently ten Safe Passage vendors and they already work in the communities they serve as part of this program. Selected service providers will be assigned to provide every welcoming school with safety support for children traveling to and from school. Community-based watchers familiar with their neighborhoods will be stationed at points along key routes. CPS will provide all Safe Passage partners with training on building relationships with students as well as de-escalation techniques. There are over 600 Safe Passage workers currently serving schools enrolled in this program. CPS will nearly double the program as part of its expansion to all welcoming schools this fall.
To ensure welcoming schools provide a positive and nurturing environment for new students, CPS will also work with each school to develop an individual support strategy plan based on the distinct needs of their students, families and communities.
In addition to expanding Safe Passage, the District’s Student Safety Transition plan incorporates the following supports and services:
- School-based Security Model: CPS will supplement all welcoming schools with an extra security officer and conduct training for security personnel with a focus on student integration. In certain instances, security officers will follow their students to their new welcoming school to ease the transition by maintaining established relationships.
- Expand and Improve Safety Technology: CPS will review the needs of welcoming schools, and technology, such as security cameras, alarm systems, and entry screening equipment, will be installed as needed.
- Welcoming Environment at Schools: Welcoming schools will hold orientation and student/family integration events during the summer to introduce and welcome new students and parents before the school year begins. These schools will also implement interventions and create student support groups, as well as engage students in additional social-emotional supports that help students build their conflict resolution skills starting this summer and throughout the school year – proven techniques already used in our schools.
Organizations that are interested in responding to the RFP should visit the CPS Procurement website at http://www.csc.cps.k12.il.us/purchasing.
Safe Passage is just one of the supports and enhancements CPS is putting in place for transitioning students. Each welcoming school will receive a combination of academic and capital supports based on its unique needs. Investments in all welcoming schools include: air conditioning in every classroom, a library in every school, Safe Passage for every school to provide increased security for students on their way to and from school, iPads for all students in grades 3-8, new and upgraded technology supports including expanded Internet bandwidth and computer, engineering, media and science labs.
Principals at welcoming schools will also receive new discretionary funding as part of the “Welcoming School Support Fund” that they can use to invest in programs that support the needs of their students, and a library equipped with additional books and digital learning materials. These investments will be made possible by consolidating buildings and resources to redirect resources toward investments in high-quality educational opportunities.
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.